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How the Atlanta Fire Chief’s Christian Views Cost Him His Job

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Heretics will be punished. That’s the clear message of the zealots who are defying more than 200 years of American constitutional tradition in their effort to establish a new state church, the church of sexual freedom. To the adherents of this church, no amount of virtue can compensate for apostasy. Even the best and brightest must be swept aside if they do not believe.

By now the stories of the victims or intended victims are familiar. Brendan Eich’s brilliance couldn’t save him at Mozilla. Thousands of hours of good works can’t save Christian student organizations from being pushed off campus. Even adoption agencies must conform to the new faith, pledging their willingness to place babies with homosexual couples, or close their doors. Indeed, no less an authority than the solicitor general of the United States weighed in on whether Christian colleges should be able to keep their tax-exempt status as charitable organizations — it is “going to be an issue,” he predicted.

The stories are legion, and the facts of the individual injustice can get lost as one lists outrage after outrage, so it is worth taking a close look at one story — a story that shows precisely how the new intolerance works and demonstrates unequivocally that no amount of virtue can overcome heresy on questions of sexual morality. It is the story of former Atlanta fire chief Kelvin Cochran.

In any other circumstance, Cochran would be the subject of inspirational books and movies — a firefighter’s version of Ben Carson’s Gifted Hands. Cochran, an African American, was born in Confederate Memorial Hospital in Shreveport, La., on January 23, 1960, when segregation still ruled much of the South. He was the fourth of four boys, and his mother had six children in all. Born into deep poverty, he saw his family’s situation grow desperate when his alcoholic father left home, never to return. His mother raised the Cochran kids by herself.

Their poverty was so deep that they often ran out of food and were reduced to eating mayonnaise sandwiches. When they wanted something sweet, they made “sugar water,” spooning sugar into tap water. Speaking of this time, Cochran says, “I learned how awful poverty really was.” He says he also learned that it was “awful” not to have a father at home.

In spite of his poverty, his single-parent family, and the continuing reality of segregation, Cochran was raised in a community that was both faithful and patriotic. He grew up going to church, and the adults in his congregation gave him a clear message: His “dreams could come true” if he had faith in God, got a good education, respected his elders, and treated others the way they liked to be treated.

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